Civil War was not about slavery, Mr. Rodricks
June 21, 2012

In his column ("Sailabration brings out the mobs," June 19), Dan Rodricks resoundingly endorses the content of a letter submitted to Archbishop William E. Lori by local Catholic Jeff Ross, to protest plans to include a quote from Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in a forthcoming evening Mass. The quote in question implores Confederate soldiers to ask God’s aid in their effort to defend the Old South’s liberties and her cause. Mr. Ross declares the preservation of slavery an inextricable element of those liberties and that cause, and he opines that "slavery is the institution that Lee labored to preserve."

Mr. Rodricks agrees and adds his sentiment that every Catholic should find use of the quote disturbing. And he challenges the archbishop for an immediate response. Perhaps, Mr. Rodricks should be reminded that the U.S. engaged in the Civil War for the sole and singular purpose of defeating Southern secessions. In the absence of them, there would have been no war. He should remember, too, that Southerners seceded despite the undeniable fact that their best hope for permanent preservation of slavery lay with their continued presence in the Union as a Constitutional Amendment outlawing slavery was forever out of reach for abolitionists because non-slave states could never have otherwise amassed the required 75 percent majority.

Abundantly clear from these rudimentary observations is the fact that Southerners seceded by reason of a grievance altogether apart from the mythical threat of abolition, and they did so despite the risk that secession could put at peril not only their authority to hold slaves but the very existence of their entire society. All of which plainly reveals that General Lee was in fact championing a cause that was the liberty of individual states to exit the Union and thereby achieve relief from a real grievance that President Abraham Lincoln and the Republicans had simply refused to dignify with debate.

"About All That Disdain for the Old South," an e-book I have written, discloses the real grievance of Southerners and also conclusively discredits just about every aspect of the melodrama that has long passed for this country’s antebellum history. The Sun has declined to review that book. But against the possibility that Mr. Rodricks could again promulgate his version of our history on the pages of your newspaper, one would hope that your editors would advise him to first read and consider its content.

Dennis G. Saunders